It’s time to put two maxed-out gaming PCs to the test — the best Alienware versus the best Acer.
Here’s a raw specs comparison for a top-of-the-range Alienware ALX X-58 and Predator Crusader II. Which one will cut it as the ultimate gaming PC?
|Alienware ALX X-58||Predator Conquerer II|
|Processor:||Overclocked Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme 3.86GHz 8MB Cache||Intel Core i7-965 3.2GHz 8MB Cache|
|Graphics:||Dual 1792MB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 with Optional Ageia PhysX Physics Processing Unit||2* Nvidia® GeForce® 2* GTX 285 + Nvidia® nForce® 780i SLI (3 way SLI) 2* 896MB VRAM|
|Audio:||7.1-channel audio + Sound Blaster X-Fi High Definition Surround Sound Audio||High Definition (7.1) channel audio support + Dolby Home Theatre audio enhancement + Creative EAX 4.0 support|
|Memory:||12GB Triple Channel DDR3 at 1600MHz||12GB DDR2 1066MHz SDRAM|
|Storage:||2x256GB SSD + 1.0 TB SATA 3Gb/s 7200 RPM||2* 1TB SATA Hard Disk Drives & 1* 150GB WD Raptor® Drives|
|Optical drives:||4x Dual Layer Blu-ray Burner||BD Burner + SuperMulti burner|
|Other connections:||8xUSB 2.0, 2xFireWire, 1xESATA, 2xheadphones, 2xmicrophone, 1xEthernet||9xUSB 2.0, 1xFireWire, S/PDIF, 2xEthernet, 18-in-1 memory card reader, 1xline out, 1xmicrophone|
|Cooling:||AlienIce™ 3.0 high-performance cooling||Liquid Cooling on the CPU|
|Other:||Customisable lighting, acoustic dampening, Killer Xeno Pro networking card, Alienware TactX Headset|
The maxed-out Alienware PC beats the Predator Conqueror II on processor power, with the recommended overclocked 3.86GHz i7 Extreme potentially running rings around the i7-965 3.2GHz found in the Predator Conquerer II.
For those not wanting an overclocked option, even though it’s recommended by Alienware, a more modest and comparable 3.2GHz i7 Extreme is available.
The GPU situation is a hard one to call at first glance, without getting buried in technical specs. Both PCs can take similar dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX cards. The Alienware PC has an optional Agela PhysX Physics Processing Unit which is likely to give more power on 3D and high-fps games. I’d say the Alienware PC just trumps the Predator on this one, though it will depend somewhat on what you’re doing with it.
Audio-wise, both machines support 7.1-channel surround sound audio, plus proprietary add-ons from Sound Blaster, Dolby or Creative. The Predator may well handle home cinema audio better, thanks to Dolby compatibility, but for gaming there’s not much to choose between the two, particularly if you’re not going to max out your home speaker system as well.
Both PCs will take up to 12GB of RAM, but the Alienware uses the newer DDR3 memory which on paper should run faster.
There’s a plethora of storage options, with Alienware beating Predator out of the box (presuming you customised it) by accepting up to 512GB of solid-state storage. As is often the case, it’s possible to mix-and-match SSD and HDD so really it comes down to your own needs. If you’ve got the cash, the SSD build option on the Alienware PC is a nice touch, but there’s no reason you couldn’t add that to the Predator.
Both machines can be fitted with Blu-ray burners if that’s important to you for home cinema or archival needs. There’s the usual range of DVD burner options as well.
Both PCs are well fitted out with other connections including an army of USB ports, FireWire and ESATA.
Both PCs use some form of liquid cooling system, and both companies will extol the virtues of their own system. Cooling is very important and you’d expect the companies to have put significant effort into their systems. However, you might find that, depending on how hard you drive the systems, you’ll need an additional third-party cooling system to really keep things running cold.
The guide price is an estimate of what it will cost to buy a top-of-the-line model based on the specifications above. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Acer made it quite difficult to find out exactly what you got for your four grand, whereas, in great Dell tradition, it was very easy to custom-build the Alienware and immediately see the price.
It’s a tough one to call, but I think I’d be tempted to spend the extra cash and go for the Alienware ALX X58. Interestingly, it’s impossible to completely max out this machine due to a limitation on the number of PCI slots, so I’d have to sacrifice a feature or two. Nevertheless, it’s a great machine for serious power gamers.
What do you think? What would you buy — one of these or something completely different?